Written by Dalton Trumbo(thereby officially ending the blacklist) and directed by Otto Preminger, "Exodus" is a contradictary, yet sturdy fictionalized epic account of the founding of Israel that is aided by great location filming. It should therefore come as no surprise that one of the major themes is rebirth. Sadly, this also marks the start of Preminger's prestige period which would be the beginning of his creative downfall when what was needed was more of the spirit from his brass balls period, especially considering how much the subject of terrorism comes up which is sadly still relevant. The one thing that might sound weird about a picture like this is that it is actually a caper film, the first the story of the boat Exodus, while the second is even more daring. Both are figurative chess matches while literal ones play out on screen. And Paul Newman is the right actor in the lead, just the wrong performance. What was needed was something on the order of the roguish leader he would play in later films like "Cool Hand Luke" and "Slapshot." Sadly, there is none of that charisma here to differentiate his character's defiance from that of the British soldier's need to mindlessly follow every order. The characters act as if they are already part of history in a wax museum for the most part.
The film explored quite a few sensibilities that were unique at the time, yet still made too many plummets into some of its time's more problematic sensibilities, and regardless of how much critics give passes to old films simply because they're old, there's plenty that you have to judge more on a general scale rather than a relative scale, though even on the relative scale, with all of its advanced touches, this film still succumbs to a few sensibilities that were already going moved foward by many films by 1960, boasting a few fine examples of common missteps at the time, or at least they seem that way, what with Otto Preminger's neglecting to put his entire heart in keeping this mammoth film going. Preminger's direction is often flat, picking up here and there, if not quite a few times, yet generally finding difficulty in taking off, going held down by a kind of resonance distance, spawned from a fairly workmanlike attitude that Preminger attempts to make up for with atmospheric overemphasis on the writing, which is good and all, and certainly helps this film in more than a few places, considering that Dalton Trumbo's screenplay isn't too shabby and that the story is strong, but considering the emotional distance in Preminger's direction, all he does in plenty of cases is drag the film's writing down to flat with him. With all the things I can and most certainly will compliment, if not praise about the screenplay that plays a huge part in making this film as good as it is, it plummets into more than a few cliches and lays only so many notes upon its characters and, to a certain degree, story, yet Preminger's overemphasis on the writing, both good and faulty, intensifies the film's conventionalism and layers limiting to a glaring extent that sticks and taints the less cliched and more layered areas of the film with the same, or at least similar kind of atmosphere, until a huge chunk of the film wears an aura of unsubtlety, made worse by quite a few side effects of Preminger's directorial distance that lean a bit more on cheesy. The dialogue and story structure writing slips up on a few occasions, yet is generally well-done and advanced past this film's unsubtlety and workmanlike atmospheric limpness, though between the two, Preminger tends to be more emphatic of the "advanced past this film's unsubtlety and workmanlike atmospheric limpness" part, in that he pronounces this film's atmospheric and written differences with a kind of distance that leaves quite a few pieces of dialogue and quite a bit of lively characterization and humanity to fall flat, sometimes to the point of feeling histrionic and consistently to the point of feeling a touch false and unsubtle. The film is too unsubtle for its own good, and while that's not enough to crush the film, or even drop it as low as underwhelming, it does do some damage here and there and pronounces many aspects that I'd imagine this film would prefer to keep somewhat obscured, and that, of course, includes the film's Zionist overtones, which bear down on the substance and end up almost simplifying its intentions. Now, with all of the film's faults, its missteps are hardly ceaseless, and are hardly even all that potent, yet they do leave their mark of the film and slow down its momentum a bit, something that you really can't afford to have happen when you're dealing a three-and-a-half epic that hardly deserves its runtime, which it earns through excess material that further slows down the film's impact and leaves it at a very real risk of collapsing as underwhelming. However, whether it be because of compensation or my rule that if a film better be good if it's three-and-a-half hours or so, the film hits quite a bit more than it misses, making it to genuinely good by not much more than a little bit more than a hair, but making it genuinely good nevertheless, thanks partially to the more livening strengths that Preminger can't distance this film from.
Okay, maybe Preminger doesn't completely let Ernest Gold's score work through without tainting it in a few spots, sometimes manipulating it in an unsubtle fashion to overemphasize atmosphere, and occasionally even overemphasizing how the score will get sweeping in a fashion more suited for a film about the actual Exodus, or something from around the Biblical era, yet on the whole, Gold manages to pull through and deliver on a score that may not be especially unique, but has plenty of clever and lively touches that juice the essence of this film and keep it from dulling out. Of course, the score isn't especially prevalent, and when it is use, it's only really all that boastful here and there, so this film needs to rely on more than just music to sustain entertainment value, and that's where, of all people director Otto Preminger comes in, because if he drenches this film in any kind of atmospheric energy, then its ambition, which may get to be overbearing, yet generally creates a kind of striking charm that livens up this film and forges a degree of intrigue that may be hardly consistent, as the film remains all too often disengaging, yet generally sustains entertainment value, as well as your investment, to a certain degree. What further secures your investment are the relatively rare, yet well welcomed occasions in which Preminger does, in fact, find that golden moment where he does land a reasonably firm grip on the situation and sparks resonance that does intensify the intrigue and catch your attention, when the film needs to most. More consistent in his delivery on execution of the worthy story is screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, even though efforts are far from spotless, making missteps that go emphasized in Preminger's faulty direction, or at least making workmanlike touches that go messily mishandled by Preminger's faulty direction, yet on the whole, Trumbo crafts a fairly sharp screenplay, with a generally impressive and then-relatively advanced level of intelligence, both in a few spots in the dialogue and in much of the characterization and story structure, which may not have a whole lot of notes or subtlety to it, yet has enough steam behind it for you to attach yourself to the characters and story, while recieving quite a bit of help from the performances behind the characters in question, or at least a couple of them. There's not a whole lot in the way of material for most of our performers to work with, or if there is, then the performances go drowned out by the many moments of Preminger's directorial distancing, yet there are still a myriad of memorable character, who owe quite a bit of their memorability to the performers within this respectable ensemble cast, from which a couple of standouts emerge, from a considerably underused yet impressively emotionally-powered Sal Mineo as a Holocaust survivor tortured by traumatic memories and unbearable guilt over what he had to do to get by, to the typically worthwhile Paul Newman, whose Ari Ben Canaan character is surprisingly among the least layered on paper, yet still remains a compellingly firm figure looking to uphold justice by any means necessary, as Newman conveys with charisma and a fair deal of moments in which he dons a certain degree of somber intensity. Still, when you get down to it, one of the most towering saviors that make this film good is simply its story, which is so immensely fascinating and worthy, with dynamicity, weight and scope that presents intriguing themes, all built around compelling happenings. Were this story executed with more care and subtlety, with less conventions and overtones that border on propaganda, it would have made for a pretty strong film, or at least one that's more than just a fair couple of bumps beyond underwhelming, yet at the end of the day, the story does stand strong on its own, and when graced the aforementioned livening supplements, it makes for a film that stands as ultimately rewarding and rather provocative.
To summarize, director Otto Preminger often keeps a kind of workmanlike distance that leaves resonance to take some damage, especially through his failed attempts at compensation through excessive atmsopheric overemphasis on Dalton Trumbo's script, which not only leaves such writing faults as cliches and limited layers over characters and story to glare, but exposes the difference in quality between the writing and direction in a somewhat awkward fashion that exacerbates the distance, and with subtlety going further hurt by striking overtones that haze the film's good intentions and momentum going further slowed down by the film's excessive length, the final product is left not as strong as it should have been and could have, yet still strong nevertheless, going graced by lively entertainment value, complimented by Ernest Gold's fine score and largely spawned from the charm within the ambition of Preminger's direction, which has its inspired occasions in which it especially sparks in its execution of Dalton Trumbo's flawed yet generally well-structured screenplay, whose execution goes complimented by quite a few memorable performances and goes built around an upstanding story, which helps the most in leaving "Exodus" to stand as consistently entertaining, sometimes resonant and ultimately provocative and worthwhile epic, even if it isn't quite what it should be.
3/5 - Good
This film is pure Zionist propaganda, with terrible stilted acting, triumphalist unreal dialogue and an inane fictional scenario, like all propaganda films tend to be.
In short: it's chuck full of romantic bullshit, ergo gratia, a group of Jewish immigrants pull a Masada on a ship off the coast of Cyprus and so on and so forth with an ending that will make any self-respecting viewer's stomach turn or even vomit.
How unfortunate that many, if not most, of the places here depicted have been destroyed by the very same people this film tries to sanitize and exult.
This film could easily be placed up there (or more appropriately "down there") with the Nazi film Jud Süß ("Süss the Jew")
3:30 hours LOOOONG... no wonder comedian Mort Sahl, so they say, when attending the premiere, apparently bored by the lengthy film, stood up after three hours and exclaimed, "Otto, let my people go!" Can't deny that both cinematography and locations were amazing, therefore I'm giving it a very generous high mark of 2 stars out of 5.
After World War II the Jews really have no place to go and are often found in detention camps that are as bad as the concentration camps they previously found themselves in. The British are no help to the Jews and the Germans exiled them. A secret Jewish/British officer will smuggle as many Jews into Palestine as possible hoping to sway the United Nations votes.
"They've been so long without love they demand all of the love you have."
Otto Preminger, director of Anatomy of Murder, Laura, The Man with the Golden Arm, Bunny Lake is Missing, Carmen Jones, Angel Face, and A Royal Scandal, delivers Exodus. The storyline for this picture is interesting and unfolds well but the script and acting was a bit cheesy and disappointing. The cast delivers uneven performances and includes Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Lee Cobb, Jill Haworth, Sal Mineo, and Peter Lawford.
"A man who has nothing but his work is only half a man."
I DVR'd this film because it had one of my favorite directors (Preminger) and actors (Newman). Unfortunately, this wasn't as good as I hoped. It was a bit cheesy and the lines were stiff at times (as were the performances surprisingly). The story is good enough to make this worth watching but this isn't as good as it should have been.
"What's unusual about the Jews dying?"
Exodus is an epic story of freedom, love and peace. It follows a group of Jewish people making their exodus from Karaolos camp to Palestine, led by Ari Ben Canaan, with the help of American volunteer Katherine Fermont. This is followed by the Jews' struggle against the British forces in Palestine, which involves a couple of bombings, a prison break, a dilemma between brothers, the death of a major character and a growing social ravine between the distinguishable groups of the society. The film ends quite inconclusively on a hopeful note as Ari and the remaining children of Gan Dafna ride off in trucks to battle.
I shall not discuss on the political aspects of the film, for, as some of you might know, I am not particularly well-versed in matters pertaining to politics. Rather, I am here to discuss this film as a film alone and nothing more. Now, on the main aspects, the writing seems to be pretty good and the acting not too bad either. Sal Mineo, who was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role as Dov Landau in the movie, performed quite solidly overall. Paul Newman's performance, while not his most iconic, is still as great as ever. Eva Marie Saint did splendidly while Jill Hamount could have been a little better - she was, I'll admit, a little awkward and wooden in some scenes, though she is remarkably beautiful.
Now onto the technical aspects. The cinematography is brilliant, with sweeping and wide-angle views of the Palestinian landscape. The most notable aspect, I would say, is Ernest Gold's score, which has led me to learning about the film in the first place. The main theme later became a song, called This Land Is Mine and was remixed time and time again by hip-hop artists into their songs, including Ice-T and T.I.. It captures the epic-ness of the tale, the struggle of the people and the hope of a better, more peaceful world. Apart from Ernest Gold's original score, the film also features others pieces of music such as Chopin's Nocturne in E-flat, a rather familiar-sounding Johann Strauss Jr. waltz (I think it's either the Kaiser-Walzer or Rosen aus dem Suden, but I can't be too sure) and Hatikvah, the national anthem of Israel.
Overall, as a film, this is a remarkable three-hour epic featuring high production values and a great message of fighting for world peace in hopes for a better world in the future.
Exodus ist ein Bilderbuchbeispiel für eine Art von Film, die heutzutage nicht mehr gemacht wird, und auch gar nicht mehr verkauft werden könnte. Diese Aussage lasse ich mal so stehen, ohne echte Wertung, denn vieles was an Exodus anders ist, ist nicht gleichzeitig gut.
Zuerst einmal, Hut ab, für Premingers Entscheidung nur an Originalschauplätzen in Israel und auf Zypern zu drehen. Nur diese Entscheidung machte es ihm möglich, das wahre Ausmaß der Hitze in diesen Ländern einzufangen. Es sei ihm auch Respekt gegönnt für die unzähligen, toll choreographierten Massenszenen, in denen sich die Kamera elegant durch die Menge bewegt. In diesen Szenen, offenbart Exodus seine wahre Größe. Durch die Massen an Flüchtlingen bahnt sich die Kamera einen Weg - durch Nebensächlichkeit und Alltäglichkeit - hin zu unseren Helden. Aber der Weg gibt uns das ganze Ausmaß des Leidens des Volkes Israel zu spüren.
Ein Monumentalfilm, er erinnert teilweise stark an Lawrence of Arabia, mit großem Aufwand und ernüchternder Laufzeit.
Mehr als drei Stunden ließ sich Preminger Zeit seine Geschichte in Gang zu bringen. Den Film könnte man aber ganz einfach auf zwei zusammenschneiden, und ich würde das wahrscheinlich sogar begrüßen. Jede einzelne Szene lässt sich Zeit sich zu entfalten, der Spannungsbogen ist irrelevant.
Suspense im herkömmlichen Sinne wird erst gar nicht erzeugt, und so verkümmern Hungerstreiks, Gefängnisausbrüche und Straßenkämpfe zu Szenen, Momenten ohne herauszustechen oder als Höhepunkte zu dienen.
Paul Newman scheint mir auch etwas fehlbesetzt zu sein. Den Actionheld nimmt man ihm natürlich schon ab, den jüdischen Freiheitskämpfer eher weniger.
Alles in allem, kann man Exodus nur als flach und ereignislos bezeichnen. Ein Widerspruch wenn man bedenkt wie viel eigentlich passiert. Allerdings dehnt sich jeder Handlungsrahmen auf einen so langen Zeitraum aus, dass er obsolet erscheint und an Wirkung verliert.